Chapter 87: Victory and Defeat

*kachak*—

With a crack that sounded like something had been penetrated, the rigid water dragon broke through the ground and violently tunneled into the earth.

In the areas mankind had explored or colonized, there was no place this contraption couldn’t penetrate.

One’day High reached out gave the water dragon a twist. With a fierce whoosh, a pillar of water gushed out of the hose and immediately ran amok in his hands, spraying water in every direction including onto One’day High himself.

Nine Heaven:……

Nine Heaven: (Tomfoolery.)

Nine Heaven naturally wasn’t one to give his opponent any chance at all. More than anyone else, he knew that victory could be decided in a mere moment’s notice.

Against a gear-dependant opponent, the activation phase was absolutely crucial. As long as you could attack them before they made their first move, your victory was usually secured.

With his body nearly touching the ground, Nine Heaven sprinted forward and in two seconds, closed the gap between him and One’day High.

One’day High: (You’re looking for death if you think you can pull a fast one on me.)

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Nine Heaven: !?

The moment he immersed himself in the fog surrounding One’day High, he immediately dodged out of it.

A split second later, a stream of oil and flames lashed out as if it was a vicious dragon was trying to bite him. Its roaring flames looked like it could reduce a man to cinders in mere seconds.

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Beneath the cover of the fog, the actions of One’day High were basically hidden to Nine Heaven. However, there was one thing he knew for sure, he had lost the first strike.

Furthermore, a strange sensation had invaded his senses, triggering his sense of danger.

Nine Heaven: ……

Nine Heaven: (This water…)

The water which briefly drenched him…it was too cold.

Given that it was summer and the temperature rose each day, it seemed odd. Furthermore, having drank well water everyday, he didn’t remember the groundwater being so cold. It was almost like it came from a block of ice, filled with the iciness of winter.

(TL: The line was altered from “even though it’s already summer and the temperature rose each day, however, he didn’t remember the well water being so cold.” No idea, why he wrote this but if anyone knows the reason for it, feel free to tell me in the comments below/discord. Preferably Discord, link above.)

Nine Heaven: (This guy must have done something to the water dragon)

One’day High: (Looks like he noticed it already.)

By the time Nine Heaven straightened his posture, One’day High had already finished his work and was more than ready to engage in a verbal volley.

Nine Heaven: What’s the matter? Are you planning to take a bath till the sun turns black?

One’day High: Of course not.

He summarily dismissed the man. Before victory was secured, casually chatting with your opponent was foolish.

Now that he had finished priming the fire dragon, his chances of victory rose to 60%, at least that was what he thought.

His right arm reached for the hose of the water dragon and gave it a light turn. What was originally a rigid tube that was almost as hard as steel, suddenly curved upwards and pointed its nozzle in the direction of Nine Heaven.

*poof*

It was a dull pop as if something solid had launched from the hose.

Nine Heaven immediately swerved his body to the side before turning around to gaze up at the object which flew over him.

Nine Heaven:……

Nine Heaven: An ice cube?

One’day High: I noticed this in your previous fights, Nine Heaven, you seem to have a bad habit.

One’day High: Whatever was thrown at you, you loved to identify it and even catch it.

Nine Heaven: !?

In that instant, his vision was engulfed in a massive inferno. However, though it was a sudden attack, the immensely experienced Nine Heaven was still able to identify the source of the blaze and the method he used to launch it.

It was slick, black object that was fired from One’day High’s fire dragon which burst into flames the instant it came into contact with his body.

Though he had studied this opponent of this beforehand, the information he learnt was merely at the level where he knew the man joined the Expeditionary Forces of Faith and became a soldier.

As for what he learnt, whether it was skills, abilities, knowledge of various machines or weapon techniques, he had zero information about that.

Still, an attack of this level wasn’t enough to take him down. Even if he couldn’t dodge it, he could still contain its damage.

*rip*—

Hands darting around in a flurry, he promptly tore off his waterproof tunic and leaped out of the fiery zone. Without wasting another second, he kicked off right as his foot landed on safe ground and charged at One’day High.

One’day High: !?

In spite of the bulky protective suit weighing down, One’day High managed to dodge the man’s charge at the last second and redirect the hoses onto his opponent.

Seeing that, Nine Heaven immediately leaped to the side the moment his feet touched the ground and proceeded to roll away twice. Having gained some distance between him and One’day High, he promptly straightened his body.

The entire sequence took place within a timeframe so short, even the mist from the water dragon wasn’t able to touch him.

Nine Heaven: More ice…more fire…

Nine Heaven: Do you really think you can defeat me like that?

One’day High: If that’s what you truly think, how about you have another taste then—

*fwoosh*—

A ball of dark flames shot out from One’day High’s fire dragon however this tiny mote didn’t seem to have any impact as it was promptly neutralized by the cooling mist.

Unlike the previous attacks, it was weak, so weak it almost seemed like a trick from a clown. For a moment, Nine Heaven thought that his weapon had malfunctioned. However, a split second later, he immediately realized what the man was up to and dodged backwards once more.

Nine Heaven (That bas**rd—)

As the scalding steam wafted over One’day High’s body, he stood unmoving like a statue.

At that very moment, he seemed like a creature born from a volcano. Around him, the surroundings burned with a deathly aura that frightened those who would even think of approaching him.

It was then that Nine Heaven realized what that suit was meant for. It wasn’t meant to protect against an opponent’s attacks, neither was it meant to protect himself from friendly fire. Its true purpose was to protect him from the heat!

One’day High: …what’s the matter? Weren’t you so eager to charge at me just now?

One’day High: How about giving it another shot? I can let you try as many times as you want.

Nine Heaven: YOU…

Given the scalding temperature of the steam and his shirtless state, approaching him was something he absolutely mustn’t do. Not to mention that there’s no way One’day High would sit there idly and let him attack; his attack range was clearly much longer.

—As expected, One’day High reached out and gave the water and fire dragons another twist. With a violent hiss, the icy water and the fiery tongue combined to form a scalding blast of steam that rushed right at him.

The moment he gets scalded by that, the referee would judge this as his loss!

Nine Heaven:……

Nine Heaven: (Looks like there’s no other option left…)

Nine Heaven nimbly dodged the stream and readied his stance. His back arched over slightly and his right hand clenched down on empty space as if he was gripping on some kind of transparent weapon.

Looking at him, the dangerous aura he gave off right now made it seem like there was nothing his attacks couldn’t penetrate even if he was empty handed.

Another stream of steam blasted right towards him but just as it was about to reach the tip of his nose.

Nine Heaven: —HAH!

One’day High: …!?

A gust of wind trailed behind his arms as he swung them forward and in one swift, almost invisible motion, threw them up into the air.

A formless energy darted forward and like a knife stabbed into the mist that hung around like the fog wafting around a mountain or forest.

The mist immediately parted in two before the piercing energy leaving behind a tunnel of safety in its wake. At the end of that tunnel was a stunned One’day High who was still holding onto the water and fire dragon.

Nine Heaven: —here I come.

A gust of wind and a charge as fast as a bullet. Even though he had redirected the fire and water dragon towards Nine Heaven with the fastest humanly possible speed, even though he had already activated the mechanism…

The scalding hot steam simply couldn’t keep up with Nine Heaven’s speed.

*Thump*

It was a heavy, sonoros thump as if a giant sandbag had landed on the ground after being tossed from a high-rise building.

One’day High:…

One’day High:……

Nine Heaven: It’s over.

A solid punch landed right in middle of One’day High’s abdominal region. Judging by how much his protective suit sank from the punch, it almost seemed like that punch had penetrated his stomach.

One’day High slumped to the ground and slowly undid collar, revealing a mouth curled up in pain. His mouth quivered from the effort it took to silence the grunt that wanted to break free, to silence the defeat that was about to escape his lips.

One’day High:…

One’day High: Ughh—

It was an unavoidable barf. A stream of undigested food spewed forth and along with it, left his energy.

At that very moment, One’day High knew that Nine Heaven’s punch had robbed him of the ability to fight with Nine Heaven.

To begin with, he never had the constitution or talents to fight with a hardened warrior. He came to terms with that fact the moment he left Savile and resolved to step into the warrior lifestyle.

Thus, he relied on his own methods to fight and survive.

Precise calculations, continuous revisions, absorbing every bit of information he could into his calculations and proceeding along the most efficient path in order to maximise his gains. Even when faced with an opponent he couldn’t win against, or perhaps under excruciating circumstances where his information gathering or calculations failed, he always managed to come up with an emergency plan.

Even in this situation where he knew for sure that he would lose…

In midst of the ringing in his ears, One’day High straightened the expression on his face and gently lifted his head to face his opponent.

Nine Heaven: One’day High, do you hear that?

Amidst the foggy surroundings, the voice of Nine Heaven became slightly muddled.

One’day High: …?

Nine Heaven: The judge has declared my victory.

Nine Heaven: You’ve lost, One’day High.

One’day High:…

One’day High:……

One’day High: Is that so? I’ve lost?

Nine Heaven:…

Nine Heaven squatted down and closed in with his expressionless face in order to burn the image of One’day High’s defeat into his eyes.

Peering into the eye holes in One’day High’s helmet, he clearly saw the pupils of his defeated foe.

Nine Heaven: You, have, lost.

One’day High: Hah…that’s right. I’ve lost.

Nine Heaven: So why are you still smiling that disgusting smile?

One’day High: …

One’day High: Haha.

His abdomen began to tremble uncontrollably. However, it wasn’t because of Nine Heaven’s punch. Instead, it came from his unabashed laughing.

One’day High: Do you really think that you’ve won?

One’day High: Remember my words when the battle started.

Nine Heaven: …huh?

One’day High: “I’m going to create an opponent that you will never overcome, Nine Heaven. What I want is to push your warrior life off a sheer cliff!”

Nine Heaven: Hah…

Nine Heaven: Have you done that then?

One’day High: Stand up and go accept your victory, you’ll know then.

Nine Heaven: Hmph, of course I’ll go—

Nine Heaven: —!!

Dizziness.

An inexplicable sense of dizziness overtook his mind. It was then that Nine Heaven realized that the left side of his face was burning as if it was on fire while the right side of his face was cold as if it was encased in snow.

This clash of extremes began to even affect his ability to control his legs. As the mist continued to waft over his face, that sensation of dizziness grew even more.

Nine Heaven:—YOU!

Nine Heaven: What did you do to the fire and water!?

One’day High: This is the true purpose of my protective suit, Nine Heaven…

One’day High: This symptom of hot and cold is my present to you, that’s the true “victory” I’ve given you…

One’day High: I won’t tell you how I created it however, know that this symptom will haunt you for the rest of your life…

One’day High: I swear, as long as you encounter any temperature that’s too hot or cold, you will think of me, Nine Heaven…

One’day High: This isn’t some kind of disease or some kind of injury, this is the vengeance I accumulated since those years ago. Go ahead and seek help from those doctors or mechanists, they won’t be able to cure you…

One’day High: Who knows, this might even end your life as a warrior, haha…

Nine Heaven: You—

One’day High: —that’s not all!

One’day High: An opponent you will never overcome — I’ve already forged one for you.

One’day High: In your pursuit of being the champion, you’ll definitely encounter him…

One’day High: Hahahaha—

It was a laugh filled with a sense of release that echoed from the depths of his belly. Picking up his water and fire dragon, One’day High. strode off into the backroom, laughing all the while.

—victory.

The one who won was undoubtedly him.

Thinking that, One’day High’s lips couldn’t help but curl into a smug grin.

One’day High: Even if it takes a few years, clinching a victory is never too late!

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Footnotes:

Credits:

Special thanks to Kaung Thant Win Naing!!

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